This preview was cross-posted at DCist:
Typically for this visionary French modernist, he explores these cosmic concepts in music of mystical intensity, using one of the strangest orchestral palettes ever assembled, including the unclassifiable electronic instrument known as the ondes Martenot and an enormous battery of exotic percussion. In live performance, it creates an otherworldly soundscape quite unlike any other. For all its Indian and French influences, the work has an American connection: Messiaen composed the piece in the 1940s, for a commission from the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and a young conductor named Leonard Bernstein ended up conducting the premiere. Alex Ross, music critic for The New Yorker, once reported that cartoonist Matt Groening is a huge fan of Messiaen, and even named one of the characters on Futurama after the Turangalîla-Symphonie. Each of the NSO's performances will begin with an introduction to the work, hosted by scholar Joseph Horowitz and featuring Christoph Eschenbach, pianist Cédric Tiberghien and composer Tristan Murail, who will undertake playing the ondes Martenot. For more background on the Turangalîla-Symphonie, watch this series of videos, containing a performance of the score "narrated" by Messiaen's comments about the work.
The NSO performs the work this evening (starting at 7 pm), and Friday and Saturday (both starting at 8 pm). Tickets range from $20 to $85. Those between the ages of 17 and 25 should register for the Kennedy Center's Attend! program, to qualify for reduced-price tickets as low as $10, at the Thursday and Friday performances.